Caribbean economic recovery heavily dependent on investment in technology

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Tech Beach Retreat co-founder, Kirk-Anthony Hamilton

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Digitisation and investment in technology will fuel the Caribbean’s post-pandemic recovery. This key insight was the focus of a virtual presentation co-hosted by regional tech plat-form, Tech Beach Retreat, and Microsoft, on March 30, 2021.

A select group of the region’s leading tech entrepreneurs tuned into the event, which unpacked the findings of “Roadmap to Economic Recovery: The Caribbean.” Commissioned by Microsoft as part of its effort to contribute to the region’s economic growth and recovery, the study was conducted by global market intelligence and advisory firm, FrontierView and sought to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on industries in different Caribbean countries.

Recognizing that startups are well-positioned to lead an innovation-driven recovery across the Caribbean, Tech Beach and Microsoft saw the value in furnishing these entities with information that would allow them to make the right moves during the pandemic to assure their success after the proverbial dust has settled.

According to Tech Beach Retreat co-founder, Kirk-Anthony Hamilton: “These kinds of insights are typically reserved for large corporations, providing them with a data-driven edge to success, while startups often start out navigating the world based on gut feeling and a vision. At Tech Beach we believe startups should be a major part of the Caribbean’s recovery story and we’re happy to know that a company like Microsoft shares this sentiment and saw it fit to address this group directly.”

The presentation gave attendees a deeper understanding of industries with faster recovery times, such as construction, pharmaceuticals, medical technology equipment, and agriculture – all of which reached pre-pandemic income levels during the first half of 2021.

Participants were also exposed to the harsh realities of industries that aren’t expected to recover during 2021, such as retail, manufacturing, extractives, hospitality and tourism.

Regardless of the sector, however, Microsoft and FrontierView’s findings indicated that sustainable growth is within grasp for all businesses that pursue digital transformation. The study also provides detailed recommendations on the types of technology-specific sectors should invest in to ensure success, from transformative investments to productivity and cash generation solutions.

Wilson Pais, director of digital companies for Microsoft Latin America states, said: “In the Caribbean, we are facing a growing technological need to transform businesses and boost economic recovery. It is time to help digital companies from their launch as small startups, to their journey to become high-profitable companies, reaching a global scale and having a large impact on the economy. These companies will be the main sources for the development of local and specialized solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the support of Microsoft technology”.

Microsoft has partnered with Tech Beach to launch its Digital Native Companies (DNC) program in the Caribbean. The initiative seeks to enable local entrepreneurs to gain access to the technology and support required to develop their business model in the cloud and expand globally.

“Microsoft is one of the companies that underpins the internet and we’ve always had a desire to have them involved in the Tech Beach ecosystem,” Hamilton said. “Now, through their Digital Natives programme, we’ll be able to help tip the scale in favour of regional startups and grant them access to the special tools and skillsets entrepreneurs elsewhere in the world are able to access with ease.”

With a focus on advising, monitoring and supporting small and medium-sized technology-based companies, DNC is expected to benefit the regional SMEs’ ecosystem and generate new market opportunities for startups throughout the region.

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